Saturday, 7 June 2008

Day 6: Northwich to Milnthorpe, Cumbria (77 miles)

Day Six on the A6

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Our task today was to navigate a course through the sprawling North Cheshire / South Lancashire conurbation without getting lost or stressed by busy traffic.

After the usual morning meal at our guest house we set off north along minor roads to Lymm and a toll bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal.

Then we continued through busy urban roads to Leigh, a grim little industrial town where we stopped for coffee. Then we continued along yet more urban roads to West Houghton where we joined the A6.

We followed the A6 for the rest of the day. Although this is a busy main road which passed through a whole series of urban areas it was wide and for much of the time had cycle lanes. Gentle gradients and long straight sections allowed us to make very good progress. The importance of this road and the ability to ride quickly along it was demonstrated by the presence of numerous club cyclists on the way.

We made rapid progress to Preston where we ate our sandwiches in the main square in bright sunshine and in front of some very imposing Victorian civic buildings.

Then we continued, still at quite a high speed, to Lancaster, where we were welcomed by a sign announcing that the city was "celebrating cycling".

It was only beyond Lancaster that urban England seemed to be being left behind, and we found ourselves at last riding through open country. We were all still going strong when we crossed from Lancashire into Cumbria and arrived at Milnthorpe, about 8 miles south of Kendal.

Worryingly, when we stopped at a supermarket in Lancaster we noticed bars of Kendal Mint Cake (effectively mint-flavoured sugar) in the impuse-buy racks beside the Checkouts.

Today was yet another dry, bright and breezy day, with warm sunshine in the afternoon. It was also yet another day when the weather forecast had been completely wrong...

Vital statistics: Distance: 77 miles. Average speed: 13.7 mph. Total distance from Land's End: 459 miles.

Tomorrow: Day 7 Milnthorpe to Dumfries